Manitoba's deficit fight to take until 2017, at least

For the first time, the Manitoba government says it likely won't balance the province's books until at least 2017.

Until now, Premier Greg Selinger has insisted he could dig the province out of the red by the 2014-15 fiscal year.

But on Tuesday, Selinger said the province will need at least another two years to balance the books, citing global economic uncertainty that he said is affecting all provinces across Canada.

"It's not an excuse at all. It's just dealing with the reality that we have in front of us," Selinger told reporters after he delivered the State of the Province address to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday afternoon.

"We have very real challenges that we have to meet in this province. They need to be addressed."

Selinger said the province will now look for more ways to cut costs.

"We will report regularly to Manitobans on the progress we've made, as we do every year, and we will show continuous progress while protecting the things that matter to Manitobans," he said.

Selinger said a merger of regional health authorities is an example of how the province can reduce its spending.